May 31, 2010 — -- An African warlord has moved to block supermodel Naomi Campbell from testifying about "blood diamonds" that she allegedly received from him.
On Monday, defense lawyers for former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is on trial for war crimes in an international court, filed papers opposing the prosecution's request to subpoena Campbell to force her to testify about allegedly receiving a handful of uncut stones from representatives of Taylor after meeting Taylor during a 1997 trip to South Africa. Prosecutors say Taylor used uncut "blood diamonds" to buy weapons and fuel a bloody insurgency in Sierra Leone that cost thousands of lives.
Prosecutors say that a gift of such diamonds goes to the heart of their case, since they believe Taylor was in South Africa at the time to buy guns with diamonds. Campbell, however, has denied receiving diamonds and has refused to testify.
During an interview earlier this year, Campbell slapped an ABC producer's camera aside when asked about the diamonds. However, when Campbell's former modeling agent Carole White heard about the ABC News report, she told the international war crimes court that she remembered Campbell receiving diamonds from Taylor's men after a dinner at South African President Nelson Mandela's house.
The prosecution now wants to subpoena Campbell, and call as witnesses Carole White and actress Mia Farrow, who had earlier told the court she remembered Campbell telling her about receiving a gift of a "huge" diamond from Taylor's men.
Taylor has told the Special Court for Sierra Leone that he never gave Campbell any diamonds, calling the notion "nonsense." When asked if Taylor wants Campbell to testify, Taylor's lawyer Terry Munyard told ABC News, "No. We want relevant evidence only. This evidence is wholly irrelevant to the charges against him."
"The whole application [for a subpoena] is misconceived as a matter of principle. No reasonable tribunal could possibly draw any useful inference about war crimes from this even if they were to find as a fact that our client had given a gift of a diamond to Ms. Campbell."
Taylor is being tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The trial, which is being held in the Netherlands, has been underway since 2006.
Naomi Campbell's Former Agent Says She Witness Gift of Diamonds
Since her interview with ABC News earlier this year, Campbell has since refused to answer questions about the alleged receipt of a gem, telling talk show host Oprah Winfrey during a May appearance on her show that talking about the alleged incident would put her family in danger.
"I don't want to be involved in this man's case. He has done some terrible things and I don't want to put my family in danger," Campbell told Oprah and her millions of viewers.
In a recent interview, Carole White's lawyer, Daniel Bright, told ABC News that White overheard Taylor telling Campbell at the 1997 dinner at Mandela's house that he wanted to give her diamonds. Later, according to Bright, when the representatives of Taylor came to the guest house they threw pebbles at the windows. They hit White's window with the pebbles and she reluctantly let them into the house. White allegedly then watched the men gave about a "half-dozen" uncut gems to Campbell.
According to Bright, White remembers Campbell being disappointed with the stones, since she had not expected them to be uncut. Bright said that White claims she convinced Campbell to dispose of the stones the next day, and that she gave them to an unnamed third individual.
Mia Farrow told ABC News and prosecutors that Campbell had told her she planned to give the diamond to Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. The Fund told ABC News that it has no record of receiving any gems from Naomi Campbell.
White and Campbell are currently embroiled in dueling lawsuits. White was Campbell's agent at a London agency called Premiere Elite Modeling and then Premiere Modeling from 1992 to 2007. Bright is representing White in a suit against Campbell in which White alleges that Campbell owes her money for royalties earned on a perfume. Campbell's countersuit alleges that Campbell was tricked into an unfair deal for the perfume.
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